Writer, illustrator, and knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column featuring humor and insights into a yarncrafter’s life.
I was a good student, but it would be fibbing of the most bald-faced and lamentable variety to tell you I enjoyed school. I hated school, in part because I invariably showed up on the first day wearing the wrong sort of sneakers, and was therefore declared by the girls on the playground to be covered in cooties.
I wasn’t much happier in the classroom. Each new year we were driven into a slightly more impenetrable thicket of the same dreary subjects by teachers who grew annually more gaunt and listless. Even the classes I enjoyed ultimately felt disconnected, irrelevant. I’d master the list of state capitals, or after days of tears successfully divide 283 by 14–only to think, “So what?”
“You’ll need this some day,” the teachers insisted, but that’s insufficient justification for a little kid. It’s tough to take the long view of things when you’re seven years old. It’s tough to see the horizon when you’re four feet tall.
Now I’m considerably older (though not much taller) and I’m wondering why the heck they didn’t just teach us to knit and crochet. If you can get a kid excited about a ball of yarn, you can get her excited about the entire curriculum that’s directly connected to that ball of yarn.
Check it out.
Spelling. W-O-O-L. C-O-T-T-O-N. M-O-H-A-I-R. A-C-R-Y-L-I-C. C-A-S-H-M-E-R-E.
Punctuation. Wool, cotton, mohair. Acrylic? Cashmere!
Grammar. I have been knitting. I am knitting. I shall be knitting. Stop bothering me, I’m knitting.
Geometry. Which shawl shape is most flattering: the triangle, the circle, or the rectangle?
Arithmetic. Georgie has six skeins of yarn. One pair of mittens requires one-and-a-half skeins. How many mittens can Georgie knit before he has to buy more yarn?
Psychology. How many mittens will Georgie knit before he decides to buy more yarn anyway?
Geography. This wool/cotton blend was spun in Turkey using wool from Australian sheep and cotton grown in India. Circle Turkey, Australia, and India on the map.
Botany. Where does cotton come from?
Biology. Where do sheep come from?
Chemistry. Where does acrylic come from?
Economics. Why does it take three countries to make one ball of yarn?
History. Who brought the spinning mill to America? Why is his face not on our money?
Physical Education. First one to climb to the top of the rope gets the ball of cashmere!
Writer, illustrator, and photographer Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008–now in its third printing) and proprietor of The Panopticon (the-panopticon.blogspot.com), one of the most popular knitting blogs on Internet. On an average day, upwards of 2,500 readers worldwide drop in for a mix of essays, cartoons, and the continuing adventures of Dolores the Sheep.
Franklin’s other publishing experience in the fiber world includes contributions to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Cast On: A Podcast for Knitters, Twist Collective, and a regular column on historic knitting patterns for Knitty.com.
These days, Franklin knits and spins in Chicago, Illinois, sharing a small city apartment with an Ashford spinning wheel and colony of sock yarn that multiplies alarmingly whenever his back is turned.